Monday Night Football preview: Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts cap off Week 16

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) walks off the field after losing to the Minnesota Vikings in overtime following an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

The Los Angeles Chargers look to stay in the AFC wild-card position as they travel to take on the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football.

The Chargers have won three of their last four games, including back-to-back wins against two other teams in  AFC playoff contention, Miami and Tennessee. Injuries have decimated the Chargers at times this year, but the team has managed to stay together and stay in the game playoff race. One of the biggest reasons has been the play of quarterback Justin Herbert. He ranks second in the NFL with 4,019 passing yards, trailing only Patrick Mahomes (4,496). However, with wide receivers Mike Williams and Keenan Allen getting healthier each week, the Chargers could be a team that nobody wants to play at the end of the year.

For one half last week, the Colts looked to be one of the better teams in the NFL. They were up 33-0 at the half against the Vikings and were in absolute control of the game. However, as has been the case for much of this season, the Colts completely lost control, and what happened next was the biggest comeback in NFL history, with the Vikings scoring 39 of the game’s final 42 points to win 39-36 in overtime. Turnovers have absolutely doomed the Colts the entire year; they lead the league with 27 on the season. The defense let the team down last week, as Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 460 yards, including 223 to Justin Jefferson.

Caesars Sportsbook lists the Chargers as 4-point favorites with an over/under of 45.5.

Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:

Los Angeles Chargers at Indianapolis Colts

Time/TV: 8:15 PM ET Monday, ESPN

Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Los Angeles -4

Money line: Los Angeles -220 Indianapolis +180

Over/under: 45.5

Analysis: Injuries have made it a challenging year for the Chargers. However, this team has done a great job of continuing to fight to remain in the playoff race. While Herbert has been magnificent, there are a lot of other guys who have stepped up. Running back Austin Ekeler has been a threat both rushing (692 yards and nine touchdowns) and receiving (635 yards and five touchdowns). On defense, the team has suffered a lot of injuries as well, but safety Derwin James (106 tackles) has been as healthy as he has been for some time. When James is right, he is as good of a defensive back as there is in the NFL. Cornerback Mike Davis has 10 passes deflected and was especially good against the Dolphins’ passing attack.

The Colts have been too inconsistent this season. At times, the Colts have looked very good. They had the Vikings beat last week, possess a home win against the Chiefs and were down two against the Cowboys in the fourth quarter. This team has the talent to play with anybody, but the quarterback position has doomed the team. The Colts announced they are benching Matt Ryan for the second time this year and will go with backup Nick Foles. With star running back Jonathan Taylor also out, it could be tough against a Chargers team with a ton to play for.

The Chargers have a great chance to enhance their playoff résumé, and they will be locked in and focused on doing just that.

Prediction: Chargers 31, Colts 20


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